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Friday, January 13, 2012

5 ways to cut cost and stress from your wedding!


I planned my wedding in two months and it cost $1000. I could have easily planned a $30,000 wedding, but I had $800 saved and loving parents and friends who helped with the rest. As the bride, I was calm and confident of everything going smoothly the day of the wedding (and I think my dear friend/wedding coordinator felt the same way!).

Please understand.This is what worked for me. $1000 weddings aren't for everyone. I chose to spend only the money I had! Whether you're a low budget person like me or you're just looking for ways to reduce costs and stress in your wedding (or your daughter/sister/friend's wedding), I think I have some helpful tips for you! 

Before we begin - I have to offer my disclaimer.
1. My  wedding dress was a junior bridesmaid dress from David’s Bridal. Junior Bridesmaid dresses are exactly like the wedding gowns, only MUCH cheaper. I spent less than $100 total on my dress and shoes.
2. My mom baked all 300 of the beautiful and delicious cupcakes we served at the reception. She and my aunt iced and decorated them the day before the wedding. The total cost of her materials was $80. If you have an amazing mom and aunt who will do that for you and deliver the same results mine did, go for it!!!

Are these gorgeous or what?!
If you’re over 4’10” and can’t wear a junior bridesmaid dress...or your mom isn’t Martha Stewart, don’t worry! I have some other ideas for you. Two other friends of mine each spent less than $4,000 on their weddings. I was in both of their weddings and they were lovely and stress free events! One friend in particular confirmed that even with purchasing her gown from a boutique and spending $500 on her cake, the total for her wedding was $3,000. I will mix her secrets in with mine. Here we go! 


1. Keep the bridal party small
  •  My sister and best friend were my attendants, and they purchased long black formals for less than $100 each. They both ended up with lovely dresses that they really could wear over and over! Imagine that!
  • The groomsmen  wore their Sunday suits with matching silver ties that I bought at JCPenny on sale, with a coupon. 
  • Large bridal parties mean more attendant gifts, more people at your rehearsal dinner (consider the cost to your future in-laws!), and more hassle at the rehearsal itself. Nothing makes a rehearsal more stressful than 7 groomsmen trying to be the funniest while the wedding director is trying to do her job! 
  • Instead of asking ALL your friends to be in the wedding, ask them to help during the wedding! You will find that your friends are eager and willing to help, especially in their area of expertise. Ask friends to sing, play instruments, serve at the reception, arrange your flowers, or hand out programs. 

2. Save Money on DIY Printed Materials
  • You can easily download invitation and program templates online. I created my own invitations and programs in Publisher and printed them locally. Not including postage, I spent less than $30 total on the invitations and programs. I set up a free wedding website and created a form for RSVP’s, instead of including a separate RSVP card and stamped envelope. I would argue that online RSVP increases your chances of getting folks to RSVP anyway. (Have I used "RSVP" enough in this paragraph? Ahem)

3. Avoid the “wedding” aisle at the craft store!

  • I love Hobby Lobby, but their wedding aisle suffers some serious markup. You don't have to pay their "wedding" merchandise prices...besides, half of that stuff is unnecessary. 
    • Favors: Please. Just don’t do it. We didn’t have favors at our wedding, and nobody threw a fit or left in a rage.
    • Printed napkins: Everyone knows who you are and what the date is. Plain napkins that match your colors work really well, and you can get them in the PARTY aisle at hobby lobby much cheaper. 
    • Guest Book: My wedding guest book came from TJ Maxx and maybe cost $5. Hobby Lobby’s wedding aisle? $25!
    • Bride and Groom cake server: Trust me. You don't need that. 
  • Borrow as much as you can.
    • I borrowed my veil and crinlin slip from friends, and it was special to use their stuff!
    • Some churches have a stash of things you can use at the reception (chocolate fountains, serving trays, punch bowls, linens, tables, etc.). A deposit may be required but that's probably all it would cost. 
    • My wedding was one week before Christmas, so the church was beautifully decorated without any cost to me. I "borrowed" other decorations from my house or purchased things I knew I would use after the wedding in my own decor. 

4. Make it your own!

  • My husband loves crossword puzzles, so we created one with questions about us and put it on the back of our programs. Everyone received a program and a golf pencil before they were seated, and it was such a hit! It was a big topic of conversation at the reception, with people stumped on different questions.
  • When I say "Make it your own," I am including the bride AND the groom in the "your." A huge stress reliever is this: make choices concerning what the two of you would like at your wedding. You cannot please your mom, your mamaw, your new mother in law, your dad, your aunt louise, and the sunday school superintendent all in one wedding. My wedding coordinator/dear friend was a huge help with this one. She constantly asked me "what does Paul Curtis think?" to remind me that his opinion is important! We both are pleased and proud of the way our wedding turned out, down to the 17 minute ceremony. =)
See how relaxed he was??!!


5. Plan Plan Plan

  • A good wedding coordinator will save your life. I choose someone who I was very close friends with, someone whose taste and judgement I trusted. I knew I could send any questions right to her and she would answer them the way I would. Another of my low budget wedding friends chose her aunt who had experience directing weddings and knew the bride well. It is a huge stress relief to have a coordinator that you feel comfortable with (and is also a great way to let your friends help!). 
  • I had a spiral notebook and a thumb drive that I carried everywhere before the wedding. The thumb drive had my guest list, addresses, names of everyone helping along with their assignments, program, invitation, etc. 
  • Sit down and think through every aspect of the day. Here's an example:
    • Peppermint punch at the reception: 
      • ingredients for punch
      • decide when to purchase them
      • decide when to take ingredients to reception site
      • assign someone to make the punch
      • write out the directions for making/serving the punch and give to coordinator or person in charge of reception
      • figure out how many/what kind of cups will you need
      • decide where you will serve the punch on the food tables
  • Use processes like that to make a detailed schedule of the rehearsal and wedding day. It might seem overwhelming at first, but it will pay. off. big. time.


I couldn't be happier with the outcome of our wedding. I KNOW some of you have tips for cutting cost and stress from your wedding. Let me hear your ideas!


Whitney for...


5 comments:

M said...

Your wedding was indeed beautiful. The cupcake pyramid was lovely, especially with the Willow Bride and Groom at the top and with the most beautiful red roses arrangement at the base. The same for your bouquet and Mother/Grandmothers corsages, those red/black roses were superb. The roses arrangement on the piano was outstanding, with all the Christmas decorations, I've never seen anything more pretty.

Megan said...

Thanks, Whitney! I will be bookmarking this for possible future use! :)

Another alternative to party favors that I love is making a donation to a charity that is special to you both in honor of the guests. It may not save any money, but I would much rather see that than get another knickknack!

Dianne said...

Your wedding was very pretty and so smart. I was so happy to be a part! Aunt Louise :-)

THE ABBEYS said...

My sister got married in November...11-11-11...and her colors were brown and orange. For "favors", she did orange and root beer sodas in glass bottles with a DIY hangtag thanking guests for sharing in their special day. Something the guests would "use" and enjoy.) No knickknacks allowed!

Whitney said...

Thanks, Nana!